Traveling during a global pandemic is a sensitive and very hot topic right now. Full disclosure: I travel for a living, so it’s part of my job to take to the roads and skies as much as possible, despite the pandemic. As someone who has recovered from COVID-19 and has recently started traveling again, I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of travel in 2020.
There are some really great improvements to travel this year, and there are some not-so-great behaviors out there. For the most realistic picture of 2020 travel, I want to share all aspects with you so you can make an informed decision about whether traveling right now is right for you. Make sure you also check out the CDC’s recommendations for travel before you go, which include tips like checking your destination’s COVID cases and travel requirements or restrictions.
Travel precautions have improved A LOT over the course of the pandemic, and airlines and hotels are doing everything in their power to keep travelers safe. One upside is that even the worst travelers are mandated to adhere to certain safety guidelines on planes, trains, and hotels.
Everyone is trying to figure out what’s acceptable during these times, but getting on a plane isn’t the pandemic red flag that many think it is. In fact, a recent study by United Airlines in partnership with the Department of Defense indicates an airplane is the safest indoor public space. It also details why the risk of exposure while onboard (even on a full flight) is almost non-existent. However, the CDC notes that spending time in airport terminals and security lines can put you into close contact with other people and contaminated surfaces, which can introduce risk.
Masks have been mandated by most governments and large industries, so that’s non-negotiable when you board a plane or enter a hotel, and there’s no arguing about it with the staff on hand—don’t even try, Karen.
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10 Tips For Staying Safe While Flying During the Pandemic: No matter your reason for travel, flying can be scary these days These 5 tips will help you stay as safe as possible on your journey. If you don’t want to be traveling now, that’s okay! But, you can travel responsibly IF you take proper precautions & use common courtesy 📍Be sure to save this post for your upcoming journey 1) Wear a mask! This seems simple but there’s more to it. Get N95 masks. These are the best masks for protecting YOU. Most masks are generally to protect other people from you, but an N95 will be your best chance to protect you from others 2) Avoid Eating on plane. Additionally, you will want to eat and drink prior to leaving your house, put your mask on and it’s best if you DO NOT break the seal while onboard. If you have to take a sip of water, know you are breaking the seal around your mask and be careful not to touch your face 3) Wear a face shield. Face shields add an extra layer of protection, and also will cover forehead and eyes. They also prevent you from touching your face 4) Wipe your seat, and entire area prior sitting down with disinfectant wipes. @lysol has just been confirmed to kill Coronavirus, so use those if possible. Additionally, you can tag @passengershaming in your seat wiping and may even get a re-share. 5) Stay away from people in boarding area and walking through the airport. 6) Wash your hands like your life depends on it, because it does. 30 seconds! 7) Instead of Uber, use a black car service like @blacklane to get to/from the airport. Blacklane is taking extra cleanliness precautions to ensure safety of customers 8) Keep checking the seating chart to make sure you are socially distancing your seat if your flight isn’t full Perhaps that means giving up your first class upgrade for an empty economy like @mommypoints recently did, or flying an airline like @delta which is operating at 60% 9) Shower in hot water as soon as you get home & put your contaminated mask and clothes in a garbage bag or straight into laundry 10) Pick a hotel that is taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of their travelers. Look at last vid of @conradnydowntown
Major hotel brands like Marriott and Hilton have each come out with their own new safety standards that include PPE for employees, and new sanitization procedures for hotel rooms. I have recently stayed at both the Conrad New York Downtown and the JW Marriott Cancun Resort and Spa. Both properties are going above and beyond to make COVID-conscious travelers like myself feel safe and protected. These include measures such as extra sanitizing, mask requirements, and even waiting 24-48 hours to turn rooms over between guests, so that the cleaning staff is less likely to be exposed to germs.
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Social distancing at its finest. 🧍🏻♀️. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .🧍🏻♀️ Did you know that Cancun was certified as a safe destination by the World Travel and Tourism Council? Basically the WTTC will give a Safe Travels stamp of approval to certain destinations where new safety measures and global protocols have been so adopted to help protect travelers. Life was good in Cancun at the @jwcancun — I was able to let myself almost forget about the stress of the pandemic for a little while because it was SO safe there! Some of the measures they took to protect me were utilizing a car service that is also following guideline, where you have a temp check, and your hands, shoes, and luggage sanitized before getting in, plus the obvious a mask! Additionally, all staff wears masks, masks are encouraged to be worn by all guests, but will be mandatory beginning in August whenever inside. Also, hotels are maxing our at 30% capacity, which means there’s plenty of room to stay away from other guests and social distant at the resort! More details to come on TrustedTravelGirl.com soon! What would make you feel safe while traveling? #jwmarriottcancun #jwcancun ——— #seaturtle #seaturtles #cancun #mexico #rivieramaya #tulum #visitmexico #mariottcancun #prettylittletrips #cancunmexico #southoftheborder
Some destinations are being recognized by the World Trade and Tourism Council for their commitment to keeping travelers safe and healthy. The Phillippines just became the 100th destination to receive the “Safe Travels Stamp” of approval from the WTTC. Other “safe” destinations include Aruba, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Indonesia, and parts of Mexico. Destinations are even limiting the number of guests allowed in a hotel. When I was in Cancun, the state of Quintana Roo was limiting properties to a maximum of 30% occupancy.
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😳Why the hell did I wear this? Because you can travel without being part of the problem and while protecting yourself, and I want to make a point. Today, I am traveling through TWO of the most infected states in the United States of America COVID. But, I’m on a mission to share with you what exactly international travel looks like right now. I’m working closely with my destination to learn everything they are doing to keep guests and staff safe… and it sounds like it’s nearly fool-proof. So why didn’t I dress this way on my last flight? My last trip was a nearly empty 3 class (Flagship First, Business and Economy) flight with a business class seat, and no one next to me. Also, I was leaving a city and state (New York) with almost no COVID cases. But, here… my own city (Los Angeles) tested for nearly 4300 new cases on Tuesday alone. The city of LA— Not the entire state. That’s MASSIVE. And don’t even get me started on Texas (DFW). I want to show you that you CAN travel (if you need to or want to). You can travel and be safe, and you can travel and not be part of the problem. I don’t go to grocery stores, I wash my groceries, I have only seen 1 friend in semi close proximity since March 5th. I am careful. So if I’m going to expose myself, it’s going to be for travel— not for a party, or a trip to the grocery store, or anywhere else. It’s all about limiting contact as much as possible. You can be home and be more of a problem than someone who travels safely. But, a traveler travels. It’s essential to my sanity and my career. The other reason I’m wearing my space suit is my Antibodies… I feel safe having SOME low level antibodies left, but I just had A LOT of testing done and they are slowly going away. Although, long term immunity is looking likely in T-Cells, we just don’t know! Better safe than sorry, and better a trip to Mexico than a trip to the grocery store! It’s all about being RESPONSIBLE. See you in the skies soon… because travel always comes back! —— #backtotravel #traveltheworld #wearetravelgirls #girlovetravel #glt #traveldeeper #indtravel #prettylittletrips #beautifulplaces #travelisback #traveldeeper #travelstories #hazmatsuit
As with anything, though, there will always be a loud minority who can ruin it for the rest of us. I’ve seen some pretty bad behavior during my recent travels. Unfortunately, we live in a world with a lot of entitled people who care more about their “personal liberties” than the safety of others. Guidelines are just obstacles to them, and they don’t give a sh*t about endangering your health or making things difficult for those who have to enforce the rules.
Even when rules are in place, there are people who will look for the loophole. For instance, you are allowed to remove your mask while eating or drinking, so I’ve seen people nurse the same drink over a period of several hours in airport lounges and on planes. Some will take a sip whenever someone approaches them; others don’t even bother to pretend. You can bet I’ve sent in a few submissions of these maskless jerks to @PassengerShaming.
In some areas, those entitled people are actually a majority, and certain states and cities have refused to put mask mandates in place. As of today, 34 U.S. states require masks in public. You can bet I won’t be promoting or visiting the other 16 states that don’t care about the health and well-being of their residents or visitors. In my opinion, it is a necessary burden of traveling to do the research on destinations and support those that are taking this pandemic seriously.
The Future of Travel
The sad truth is, the travel industry is forever changed. We’ve seen huge downturns before with 9/11 and the 2008 recession, so it’s not hopeless—travel always comes back. But there are businesses that survived those downturns that won’t survive this pandemic. Landmark hotels like the Hilton Times Square and the W New York Downtown are closing for good. Closures like this mean fewer options for travelers. We will have fewer hotels to choose from, fewer airline routes, and fewer destinations open to Americans than ever before.
Also, a U.S. passport used to be a golden ticket to nearly any destination, but that’s no longer the case, as we’re not managing this crisis as well as other countries. In fact, we are only welcomed into approximately a dozen countries at the moment, which would have been unthinkable before this year.
On the bright side, cleanliness will never be taken for granted again. Passengers won’t settle for crusty airplane seats or dirty lavatories ever again. Fastidious cleaning procedures are here to stay, and that’s a “new normal” we can all embrace.
It’s not all doom and gloom in the travel industry. While urban destinations like Chicago and New York have suffered greatly, other destinations are booming. Mountain resort towns like Aspen, Park City, and Jackson Hole are seeing record numbers of tourists escaping the restrictions of urban environments for fresh air and outdoor adventure. Hotels, restaurants, and tours are booming with summer visitors, and many people are already planning their annual ski trips.
So, this isn’t the end of the travel industry, but a definite shift for everyone. By traveling safely and responsibly, we can show our support for the three-trillion-dollar industry that so many families rely on. Getting COVID tests and donning PPE is a bit of extra work, but it beats watching our favorite places slide into bankruptcy.
If you’re about to travel, hopefully you have a greater understanding of what to expect when you catch your next flight. If you’re not ready, that’s okay too; we’re all figuring this year out as we go.
Image: averie woodward / Unsplash; trustedtravelgirl / Instagram
If you happened to tie the knot before or during the pandemic and have put the honeymoon on pause until flying feels safe again, sneaking in an end-of-summer or early fall escape is still plausible—and probably much-needed.
Enter the Hamptons: an easily-accessible destination if you happen to reside in the tri-state area—or even parts of New England—and don’t mind a drive or a scenic ferry route.
With an expansive backyard that checks all the vacation-worthy boxes (sun, surf, and sand), heading out east is always a good idea in our book. Responsible, socially distant practices and policies also make the Hamptons feel not only doable these days, but welcoming.
Below are our picks for where to stay, dine, and explore after your weekender bag is packed and you’re ready to go.
Where To Stay
Amangansett’s newest residence, The Roundtree, is beyond dreamy, and ideal for getting away in style. The 15-room, pet-friendly boutique hotel just opened last month, so you know it’s clean, disinfected on the regular, and COVID-compliant. There are even cell phone sanitizing stations in your personal quarters. Now, how’s that for safety precautions?
You can choose between deluxe rooms, suites, and cottages in centuries-old refurbished digs that all come with Frette linens, Matouk towels, and Grown Alchemist bath products. The Roundtree is basically our #1 pick for romance, intimacy, and luxury, all wrapped up in one. And when you book four or more nights, they’ll set you up with a chef for a fall harvest dinner experience for two on the property.
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“A stay at The Roundtree means you’ll get to know your neighbors, since there’s so few of you. Perhaps you’re just drinking rose, or, since The Roundtree allows pets, your dog will inevitably run up to greet another on its rolling green grounds. Then you’ll start chatting (six feet apart, of course), and soon enough, you’re waving to them at breakfast or giving them a nod as you both dive into yet another Zoom call. Everything is so laid back, so friendly, that it adds to the atmosphere.” – @ejtay @voguemagazine Consider one of our stand-alone cottages or rooms for weekly and monthly rentals this fall for a socially distanced #workfromvacation experience #theroundtreeamagansett #theroundtreehotel #theroundtree
Smack dab in the middle of Montauk is the notoriously laid-back “End of the World” Surf Lodge. Kitschy balcony hammocks and a fleet of loaner bikes are part of the perks when it comes to staying here, as is close proximity to the beach—making it a coveted hangout for eating, sleeping, surfing, and repeating. Standard rooms (plus junior and master suites) are boho, yet minimalistic. Their famous outdoor concert series is on pause given the pandemic, but the restaurant remains open with six-feet-apart al fresco seating.
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aaaand we’re back! Starting today we’re officially open to hotel guests (only!)—with a new set of safety protocols in place. In the face of all this uncertainty we hope to bring you some sense of comfort and familiarity, and create the escape we all need right now. Rooms are still available for the July 4th weekend and we have take-away dining starting Friday for our neighbors, so let’s finally get this summer started! … Protocols include: -Employees wear masks at all times -Employees are tested weekly -Contactless sanitizing stations -Both in-house cleaning and professional commercial cleaning -Encouraging staff to social-distance outside of work -Immediate response and transparency to a positive test
One of the sweetest stays in the Hamptons can be found at Baron’s Cove in the quaint whaling village of Sag Harbor. Ideal for a lover’s retreat, the year-round sophisticated refuge boasts 67 rooms, many with gated terraces tailored to sitting outside for sunset cocktails. Its upstairs restaurant is perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The spacious pool and surrounding gardens serve as the perfect adult playground, so it’s no wonder Billy Joel, Truman Capote, and Jackson Pollock have all checked in over the years. Pro tip: book in the fall and winter to save on rates.
Where To Eat
If you happen to be near Bridgehampton, our go-to romantic dinner for two is always at the Topping Rose House. The uber-chic Jean-Georges restaurant is a must for celebs, socialites, and diners who want a meal in a swanky setting. It’s also one of the few premiere spots that’s open year-round for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and cocktails. As far as the menu goes, the black truffle and Fontina cheese pizza is a must, as are the roasted Maine lobster, seared black sea bass, and crispy salmon sushi.
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Down the road in Bridgehampton is the quaint Bridgehampton Inn & Restaurant, with an idyllic backyard and locally sourced menu that changes from season to season. On Fridays, there’s live music, and Kyle, their esteemed wizard behind the bar, will be more than eager to whip up a bespoke aperitif of your choosing. The family-run establishment also owns the Loaves & Fishes Food Store next door, so be sure to stop in for newlywed must-haves for the home—or to update your registry.
More staples in Montauk include roadside seafood shack The Clam Bar for lobster rolls and fried whole belly clams, plus a smorgasbord of other seafood favorites under a cascade of yellow umbrellas. It’s only open for lunch, and highly addictive after you go the first time.
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Navy Beach is another spot for good vibes and good times, with picnic tables nestled in the sand and a stay-all-day mentality that makes it hard to leave—and harder to not order more wine. (They have one of the largest selections of rosé in the Hamptons.) Food highlights include the buttermilk fried chicken, jumbo lump crab cake and, obviously, the navy burger. Their sunset views are legendary, and their 200-foot private beach is prime real estate for honeymoon happenings (aka Instagrams).
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Get a taste of Manhattan in Montauk at Scarpetta at Gurney’s Montauk Hotel & Spa, which is not only on the beach, but set under a cascade of twinkling lights for the ultimate ambiance. You’ll undoubtedly order the classic Italian pastas for the table, but don’t overlook the fresh crudi, the black cod, or the Wagyu strip. Then there’s Showfish at Gurney’s Star Island, with an ingredient-driven menu of veggie-forward dishes as well as crazy good land and sea options.
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Scarpetta Newport will be reopening tonight and tomorrow from 5:30pm – 10:00pm for both outdoor and limited indoor seating, ordering for takeout and in-room dining for guests of the resort. This service will resume again on Thursday, June 11th – Sunday, June 14th. Scarpetta @gurneysnewport will continue to evaluate the situation and focus on long-term planning for its reopening. Wishing our Newport employees, guests and community a safe and strong reopening 🤎
Duryea’s may sound like a laid-back lobster deck with a view, but it’s more like St. Barths or St. Tropez when you arrive to the chic AF destination. Here, the rosé is always flowing, and the plateau de fruits de mer are on point. They’re renowned for their lobster Cobb salad and crudité platters, but it’s the cushy banquettes, overhead fishnet canopy, and effortlessly cool attitude that makes us fall in love with this Montauk mainstay again and again.
If you’ve never been to Tutto il Giorno, make a reservation now. So f*cking pretty, it’s exactly where you want to toast to your nuptials over shared plates of Mediterranean fare. Designed (and owned) by Donna Karan and her daughter, Gabby Karan De Felice, it’s the epitome of backyard garden goals. And they have outposts in both Sag Harbor and Southampton, so you’ll have ample opportunities to visit, depending on where you’re staying.
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Main Street Tavern is a new spot that just opened this summer, from the team behind Highway Restaurant & Bar in East Hampton. Already gaining a considerable amount of buzz, MST is the tasty newbie on the block with delicious food and charm to boot. They’re currently only offering dinner through takeout or in their outdoor socially distanced beer garden, but definitely order the crispy shrimp, fish and chips, and baked clams.
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Other strong contenders for breakfast, lunch, and dinner include: Cowfish (Hampton Bays), Nick & Toni’s (East Hampton), Coche Comedor (by the team behind Nick & Toni’s, La Fondita, and Towline BBQ), The Backyard at Sole East (Montauk), Wölffer Kitchen (Amagansett), Le Bilboquet (Sag Harbor), Greek gem Elaia Estiatorio (Bridgehampton), and il Buco at Mostrador Marram.
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What To Do (Socially Distanced)
Yes, the beaches are open—as are almost all restaurants and shops in the various towns—but, obviously, wear your mask and lay your towel, chair, etc. away from others to do your part. For more information on beach permits and parking, check out this handy guide.
Spinning to the beat may be paused at most indoor studios around the world still, but, naturally, the Hamptons takes it outdoors. Grab a bike for SoulOutside at any of the the Southampton, Bridgehampton, Water Mill, and Montauk locations, but be sure to book early.
Wölffer Estate Drive-Thru
Chances are you’ve seen the socially distant drive-through rosé cart on the ‘gram, because it’s pretty much the cutest thing ever. Pull up, select your pink or bubbly of choice (along with whites, reds, and ciders), then be on your way, contact-free. Should you desire more of a vineyard-type experience, the Estate and Wine Stand are currently offering tasting reservations (with food) six feet apart.
The drive-thru can be found at the Wölffer Estate Wine Stand in Sagaponack, New York. It’s open daily from 11am to 7pm.
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Happy Friday! Need a restock on your favorite Wölffer products for your virtual happy hour? Our drive-thru is open 11am-6pm daily 💕 . . . . . . #wolfferestatevineyard #wolffer #wolfferestatewine #wine #spirits #cider #eastend #hamptons #amagansett #sagharbor #montauk #nyc #localeats #localbusiness #familybusiness #sustainable #sustainablefarming #sustainability #estatewines #localwines #roselocal #rosé #drivethru
Bike Around Town
Most hotels provide complimentary wheels to scoot around the Hamptons in the summer, and you can be as spread out as you want when riding. Should you be in a house or Airbnb, here are a few more places to rent from:
- Khanh Sports
- Amagansett Beach & Bicycle
- Dan’s Bike Rental
- Sag Harbor Cycle Company
- Rotations Bicycle Center
Plan A Clambake On The Beach
Hampton Clambake will bring the beach party to you, with a fully organized and delicious clambake on the South and North forks.
Take Advantage of NYC-Turned-Hamptons Pop-Up Restaurants
This summer, New York City notables such as Marea, Carbone, Kissaki and the aforementioned il Buco have traveled out East to bring the people what they want: platters of spicy rigatoni to go. Some of these pop-ups come with a hefty price tag (like Marea’s dinner for four for $450), but you get to enjoy a Michelin-starred meal in the comfort of your own home. Plus, it’s a serious spread. Think: marinated olives, lobster and burrata, panzanella salad, steak with salsa verde, summer squash, sautéed greens, seasonal pie, and a bottle of Hampton Water Rosé.
Image: Hamish Duncan / Unsplash; theroundtreeamagansett, thesurflodge, baronscove, toppingrosehouse, bridgehamptoninnandrestaurant, theclambar, navybeachmontauk, scarpettarestaurants, duryeaslobsterdeck, tuttoilgiorno, themainstreettavern, monstradormarram, wolfferwine, mareanyc / Instagram
Your European vacation is canceled and your shoe-box sized apartment is sitting at an unbearable temperature of 105°. If you’re one of the lucky ones who still has a job, Mondays are basically indistinguishable from the weekend and your vacation days feel pretty much useless. At least we’ve made it to summer, and halfway through this dreadful year.
The CDC still advises against travel, and the best way to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19 is to stay home and limit your interactions with other people. However, being around people—particularly in enclosed spaces—is what spreads coronavirus, not the actual act of traveling. This means that there are still ways to take a vacation and plan ahead to ensure you stay as safe as possible this summer. As every company’s email newsletter informed us back in March, these are unprecedented times. So take precautions when allowing yourself to decompress, safely take a vacation, and try to dull the pain of 2020 with tequila sodas.
Travel, But Make It Local
Travel, both internationally and domestically, has obviously taken a serious hit due to the pandemic, with a low point on April 14th of only 87,000 fliers, according to the TSA. Since then we’ve seen a gradual increase in travel both in the air and on the ground as states rushed to open. Memorial Day weekend seemed to be the turning point when everyone just thought we could forget about the pandemic and get on with our lives, with a 48.5 percent increase in road travel compared to the previous weekend. Unfortunately, this jump and people’s general unwillingness to socially distance resulted in a huge spike in coronavirus cases. Anddd this is why we can’t have nice things.
The moral of the story: don’t be that guy! If you’re going to travel this summer, now is the time to keep your group exclusive and spend your money on fancy sh*t rather than just flocking to the hottest vacation spot (or literal COVID hot spot). Forgo the crowded Lake of the Ozarks pool party and show off your bikini body via Instagram from a private pool in an Airbnb instead. Skip the long flight and treat yourself to summer loungewear or dinner on a socially distant street-side patio. We’re always talking about how we want to be where the people aren’t, so let’s take advantage of this opportunity and built-in excuse for getting out of plans.
It also helps to limit your groups, wear a mask when social distancing isn’t possible, and avoid peak travel times. Before booking and going on a trip, be sure to monitor the number of cases in the area you are visiting, follow travel recommendations, and definitely don’t ignore some states’ 14-day quarantine mandates and get arrested.
“Help Me, I’m Poor,” -The Airline Industry, Probably
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While your pink Away luggage set collects dust, your preferred airline has gone into a tailspin and the remainder of 2020 is looking increasingly bleak for the industry. American Airlines may furlough 20,000 employees starting October 1st when the federal bailout expires. United said they could lose 36,000 jobs in the fall. That said, should you be rushing to give them your money? While before, you would probably book flights based on what was cheapest, now you might want to choose your airline carefully.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, airlines have claimed to be doing all they can to prevent the spread of coronavirus. However, as the economic pressures loom and lockdowns are lifted, there has been a gradual abandonment of precautions. Flights have become increasingly full, and airlines like American are booking back at full capacity. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) called his jam-packed connecting flight to Texas “incredibly irresponsible” and “high-risk.” Meanwhile, airlines are not prioritizing cleaning, according to a recent Association of Flight Attendants survey where only 44 percent of flight attendants said their planes were thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between flights. A worker from American Airlines’ evening shift also stated that she and a few colleagues had only ten minutes to clean some incoming flights before they had to board more passengers. Considering I spend double that amount of time just on my nighttime skin care routine, I don’t think ten minutes is enough time to sanitize a whole plane’s armrests and tray tables.
As we know from collecting air miles (remember those?), not all airlines are created equally. Delta will continue to not sell middle seats through the summer, and United will allow you to switch to a different flight if the one you are booked on becomes too full. While most airlines have policies advising all passengers to wear masks during flights, some airlines (you can guess which one) are not enforcing them.
Not Feelin’ Fly Like A G6
Air travel is risky due to the increased time around large numbers of people in enclosed spaces, but if you must travel by plane, be sure to take the necessary precautions. Take the time to disinfect your seat, area, and hands, and opt for shorter flights without layovers to help reduce your exposure. Dr. Farley Cleghorn tells National Geographic, “Choose a window seat as far from the restroom as possible. Keep the overhead vent open and toward your face—continuous airflow creates a small, invisible ‘wall’ that restricts (at least slightly) the exhaled air from other passengers.”
If international travel is essential for you, be aware that some airlines are prioritizing business class seats, which currently can cost as much as some people’s annual salary. While on July 10th American Airlines told flight attendants that “for now, it’s OK for customers to move to different seats in the same cabin,” that policy isn’t always the case. For one couple trying to get home to Australia from the U.S., their only option might be a $24,000 USD business class ticket. Somewhere out there an out-of-touch, super-rich person (Ivanka, is that you?) who only flies private thinks that must be the normal cost of a seat in economy…must be nice.
Trains: Bad And Bougie, Or Just Bad?
Trains can conjure two types of imagery: relaxing on a humming passenger train in comfortable seats like you’re on your way to Hogwarts, or being shoulder-to-shoulder on the subway with a guy who smells as you try to drown out someone’s argument with a podcast on your daily commute.
Doesn’t the first option of train travel just feel so European? While you may just be chugging upstate, it feels like you could be making your way through the Italian countryside. Even though European travel is off the table this summer, trains remain a safer option during coronavirus. Amtrak offers flexible bookings, limited seats for sale, and even private rooms. If your train travel is a little less “martinis in the lounge carriage” and more “essential commute on the L in Chicago at 6am”, you definitely deserve a vacation. Even though cities like New York have gone to great lengths to clean and sanitize their subway systems, transit employees have been heavily impacted by coronavirus with many deaths in the early stages of lockdown. Regardless of the type of train you’re taking, be sure to stay six feet apart when possible and wear a mask.
Roadtrip > Eurotrip
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Ok, fine, an Aperol Spritz in Positano is probably better than Bud Lights from a cooler by a murky lake, but traveling by car is likely the safest way to vacation this summer. It allows the least contact with other people and the most control of your surroundings, plus gas is at record low prices. If you’ve ever dreamed of being Britney Spears in Crossroads and driving down the highway in a convertible with your besties, now is the time!
“Traveling by airplane is much higher risk than traveling by car with your family,” Carl Fichtenbaum, an epidemiologist with the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and Infectious Diseases, tells CNBC. If you don’t own a car, renting one is fairly easy, or upgrade to a camper van and convince your boyfriend that you are the next Caelynn and Dean, without having to meet on Bachelor in Paradise. Once you rent the vehicle, clean and sanitize it, then download Britney’s full discography for when there’s no cell service. (That last part is just a personal recommendation, not the CDC’s.)
Before you leave, pack a COVID tool kit with hand sanitizer, masks, and wipes. While on your journey, try to limit interacting with others as much as possible: bring your own snacks to avoid going into convenience stores, pay at the pump rather than inside, and limit your number of stops—particularly in public bathrooms, as they can be cramped, and flushing a toilet can stir up aerosol particles. (If we weren’t germaphobes before this pandemic, I’m pretty sure we are now.) Once you’ve completed your road trip checklist, you’re ready to hit the open road like a suburban family in a minivan.
Drinks Well Alone
2020 is certainly a wild ride, and America continues to be the world’s Florida. We won’t be getting drunk in the airport lounge this summer, and Maine is the new Greek Islands, but at least the panhandle state stays consistently wild. Plus, on the bright side, you can delay buying another millennial pink bridesmaid dress for your cousin’s destination wedding for at least a year.
With things looking so depressing, it’s definitely time to salvage what’s left of summer 2020 and book a vacation or even a long-term stay to take advantage of working remotely. Being safe doesn’t mean you have to stay in your apartment alone, but it does mean you have to take precautions and limit your interactions with groups of people. And remember, drinking alcohol doesn’t act as an internal sanitizer, but multiple White Claws can help you forget the terrible Zoom dates you went on in April and make summer feel a bit more normal.
Images: Anna Shvets / Pexels
As coronavirus cases climb in the United States, American passports appear to be losing their value. But America is GREAT AGAIN, haven’t you heard? Thanks, Donny! As if a raging pandemic, lack of accessible healthcare, and systemic racism weren’t enough, you can say au revoir to your European summer holiday, as well as vacations in a bunch of other places around the globe. Great. As the European Union prepares to reopen, U.S. travelers did not make the 15-country safe list and have officially been blocked from entering. So, where else can Americans travel right now? And better yet, should they travel or cancel trips this summer?
“You Can’t Sit With Us”—The EU, Probably
When the EU closed its borders in March, it was no small decision. The same goes for continuing the ban for Americans, considering the fact that 15 million U.S. travelers visit Europe each year, and the industry creates jobs for 26 million people. Clearly, the bloc’s economy will take a substantial hit as the travel industry’s normally bustling summer season comes and (likely) goes without its usual international visitors. The decision was based on epidemiology as opposed to the economy, with the New York Times reporting that the EU “sought to balance health concerns with politics, diplomacy and the desperate need for tourism revenue.”
Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Japan are on the list of approved countries, and that list will be reviewed every two weeks. However, it seems that the U.S. will have to make a serious reduction in new cases in order to be reconsidered, so we won’t be holding our breath. Unlike Americans, travelers from the approved country list will be permitted access to all EU member states, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. So if you had hoped for some thirst-trap pics for your grid in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon this summer, you’ll have to keep your posting closer to home.
There’s good news for some Americans, as the ban pertains to your residency rather than your passport. This means if you’re an American living in one of the approved countries and can prove your residency there, you may be able to enter. Congrats—it’s like a get out of jail free card!
Cruel Summer—The Countries Americans Can’t Visit
In addition to the EU, there are also a number of other countries not allowing Americans in. Canada’s
regulation hottie Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced the continuation of its border closure with the U.S. until August 21, with the possibility of another extension. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and China’s borders also remain closed to all international arrivals.
honestly it’s surprising that the Bahamas are just now banning Americans when Fyre Festival was like three years ago
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) July 20, 2020
As of July 22, the Bahamas has once again closed its borders to the U.S. due to the recent rise in cases stateside. However, if you’re bougie enough to have a private plane or yacht, you can keep planning your vacation as long as you can provide a negative COVID test… but you may get roasted by the internet for being a covidiot if you do.
Countries Open To American Travelers
Dreaming of the beach? You might be in luck, as a number of Caribbean countries are open to visitors. Belize, Barbados, and Jamaica are all open to international travel, as well as St. Barts, St. Lucia, and Antigua. However, each country or territory has its own COVID restrictions upon entry. Some include providing a negative COVID-19 test no more than a week old, or temperature and health checks upon arrival.
Mexico is also an option, even though the land border between the country and the U.S. remains closed. You can still arrive in certain areas by plane, but keep in mind that states are opening in varying degrees, so not everywhere in the country is ready for visitors.
Despite the ban, Europe is not completely off-limits to Americans this summer; the open countries just might not be the places you have at the top of your bucket list. Albania and Serbia are European countries not yet in the EU that are currently allowing international travelers, so start your research on their tourist destinations if you really want to book a trip. Apparently Serbia has a killer wine region—who knew? Additionally, Croatia has decided to issue its own travel requirements outside of the EU’s restrictions, allowing for non-EU citizens to visit, but requiring proof of pre-booked accommodations. Meanwhile, in the UK (no longer an EU member, as you may recall), international travel is permitted; however, all American arrivals must quarantine for 14 days upon entry.
“Just Because You Ameri-can Doesn’t Mean You Ameri-should”
I hate to be the Debbie Downer here, but even though some countries are open doesn’t mean you should be booking the first flight out. The CDC and the U.S. State Department still have travel advisories that warn against non-essential travel. You know what sucks more than wearing a mask during your staycation? Being on a ventilator.
As much as you’re eager to take new travel Instagrams, we are still amidst a pandemic, and there are still a lot of risks associated with travel. Air travel may increase your exposure to the virus due to difficulties with social distancing and being near people indoors for an extended period of time. If you do decide to fly, take the common-sense precautions we’ve been talking about for the last five months: wash your hands regularly, wear a mask, cover your face when you cough or sneeze, and stay six feet apart when possible.
Travelers should also consider the practical risks, like obtaining health insurance. Some travel health insurance becomes void when there is a government travel advisory, so be sure to always check to see that you will be covered in case you get sick or injured during a vacation.
Many countries are not as lax as the U.S., with nations like Canada and New Zealand still keeping their borders completely closed to visitors even though they have drastically fewer cases and deaths than the U.S. The countries are also enforcing mandatory 14-day quarantine to anyone who enters the country. Additionally, countries like Australia have issued a complete ban on overseas travel, and any exemptions must be approved by the government. Given that the success of flattening the curve in these countries has far outweighed the efforts (or lack thereof) of American officials, it might be wise to take a page from their book.
Party In The USA, Because You Won’t Be Going Anywhere Else
Yes, 2020 has indeed been a horror show, with the U.S. as its main character. For now, let’s hope that next year gets a whole lot better and we can resume our partying in Mykonos in 2021. On the bright side, where other than America can we see a Karen go postal in a Trader Joe’s because her CoNsTiTuTiOnAL rIGhTs are being violated? Plus, there’s still an election that could go horribly wrong! Seriously, just so much to look forward to this year.
Do everyone a favor and find a friend with a beach or lake house, and just stay the fuck home/in said vacation house and drink margaritas until Florida feels like Florence. Good luck.
Images: Anna Shvets / Pexels
If you’ve recently watched the news, listened to the radio, or heard a terrified old woman in a Best Buy warning her kid not to take her mask off because she might die (like I did the other day), then you know the Coronavirus is a super hot topic RN. WTF is the Coronavirus, anyway? Well, coronaviruses have existed before this year, but the newest strand of the virus, COVID-19, is what’s been freaking everybody out since it hasn’t been previously identified in humans and doesn’t have a treatable vaccine or antiviral therapy yet. According to Cassie Majestic, MD, the Coronavirus is a common virus that typically “presents as a respiratory illness consistent of cough, fever, and shortness of breath and can appear from 2-14 days after exposure.” She adds, “Symptoms range from mild to severe. These symptoms can progress to pneumonia, fluid buildup in the lungs, and stress on other organs such as the kidneys.” Yikes. And if you’ve kept any sort of tabs on COVID-19, you know this sh*t is basically all over the world, and people, especially travelers, are freaking out. So if you’re traveling anytime soon, what should you know to stay as safe and healthy as possible? We spoke to Cassie Majestic, MD and Eudene Harry, MD to get the lowdown.
Which Travelers Are More At Risk?
Old people? Babies? People who don’t wear masks? WHO’S AT RISK HERE? “Travelers over the age of 50, those with chronic illness, and those with compromised immune system may have a higher risk of contracting and getting sicker from any virus, including the COVID-19 strain,” warns Eudene Harry, MD, who’s board certified in both Emergency Medicine and Holistic Integrative Medicine. Believe it or not, she says being in an airplane may not increase your risk as much as you’d think. “Based on research, using the flu model, your risk of contracting a respiratory illness on an aircraft is very low. To be at risk, you’d most likely have to be sitting directly behind, in front of, or right beside the infected person,” she explains. Thank god, because the chorus of sniffling kids on my recent flight made me veryyy nervous. Dr. Majestic adds, “patients who are immunocompromised, elderly, or have other complex medical conditions are typically at higher risk for a poor outcome” (aka getting the virus or presenting worse symptoms of it).
Should You Reschedule Your Vacation?
I just flew to California last week and I’m still alive to write this article. I’m also heading to Quebec in a couple of weeks. IMHO, I’m not going to let this outbreak stop me from living my life, but less skeptical people are debating canceling their upcoming trips. So is that smart, or an overreaction?
It depends on where you’re going. “The CDC has established areas that it recommends that you do not travel to unless it is necessary. So far, these areas are Iran, China, Korea, and Italy,” says Dr. Harry. “These areas seem to currently have the most amount of active transmissions. The CDC has classified these countries as Level 3 areas of concern and recommends rescheduling visiting these countries, if possible.”
Dr. Majestic also suggests regularly checking your flight status and airline website for Coronavirus updates, airline tips, and restrictions that are being modified on the daily. “Consider postponing travel to countries with a significant number of outbreaks. I only say this because you risk being exposed and/or infected and then seen as high risk when you return to your home location. This could, in turn, lead to request for quarantine and days off from work without pay or disruption in your daily schedule.” So you’re saying I could go on vacation and then get another 14 days off work? Hmmm….
In all seriousness, if you’re supposed to visit any of those spots in the near future and you may be more susceptible to COVID-19, maybe consider like… not going until the hype dies down? But whether you wanna play it safe or play a game of serious Risk is up to you.
How To Stay Safe While Traveling RN
If you can’t cancel or reschedule your trip, or you just don’t want to, don’t go into a stress spiral (not at all speaking about myself). “Do yourself a favor and be aware of any restrictions in the area you are traveling to and how you can be best prepared,” says Dr. Majestic. Here’s what you can do to reduce your odds of contracting the Coronavirus during your travels.
1. Practice good hygiene.
There’s a lot more to “good hygiene” than regularly showering. “This means washing and sanitizing (with an alcohol-based sanitizer of at least 60%) your hands often. It’s also helpful to wipe down any public surfaces you may be using, especially if you’ll be eating there,” says Dr. Majestic. Dr. Harry adds that you should be washing your hands frequently with soap and water for AT LEAST 20 seconds. So sing your ABCs or the “Happy Birthday” song at least twice and get those hands clean.
2. Avoid touching your face.
Especially your mouth, nose, and eyes. “Refrain from touching your mouth or nose at any time, unless your hands are clean,” warns Dr. Majestic. “ spread through respiratory droplets coming in contact with mucosal surfaces. It’s not spread by simply breathing in the same air as someone else,” says Dr. Harry, which flawlessly leads us to our next tip…
3. Don’t wear a mask.
Yup, you read that right. Both docs do NOT recommend wearing a mask to prevent catching the virus, so don’t worry about the mask shortage everyone’s flipping out about. “CDC does not recommend wearing masks to prevent getting the disease. In fact, there’s concern that this may have the opposite effect,” explains Dr. Harry. “People wearing masks tend to fidget with the mask, thus frequently bringing their hands in contact with the face. Also, most masks are designed to keep droplets in, not keep them out. So, masks are best worn by people with an illness.” Only wear a mask if YOU are sick. Otherwise, don’t do it.
4. Keep your distance from sick people.
Stay FAR away from anyone constantly sneezing or hacking up a lung. “Maintain your distance (approximately 5-6 feet) from those who are coughing or sneezing. If you cough or sneeze, do so into a Kleenex or into a flexed elbow,” says Dr. Majestic. First of all, you should be doing this anyway. Avoiding crowds can help, too. Hate people? Perfect. All the more reason to voluntarily quarantine yourself for the sake of ~good health~.
5. Drink plenty of water and get plenty of rest.
Keep your immune system high by resting and hydrating as much as you can before, during, and after your trip. All the more reason to nap and drink (water, not margaritas… sorry).
Moral of the story: stay safe out there. And “if you experience respiratory symptoms and fever, and have traveled to an area with coronavirus outbreak or have close contact with someone who has traveled to these areas or tested positive, you should seek medical care for testing,” says Dr. Majestic. Don’t be a hero; if you feel sick, stay home. If you travel anytime soon, may the healthy odds be ever in your favor. (Wish me luck.)
Images: Pexels, GIPHY (7)